Congratulations to Chris Reckling on winning the raffle held last month by the Pisgah Banjo Company. Thanks to all the supporters in the bluegrass and old-time music communities, $26,740 was earned, with all proceeds from raffle ticket sales going to the IBMA Foundation’s  Arnold Shultz Fund—created in 2020 to encourage more participation by people of color in bluegrass music. Pisgah Banjo Company is located just outside of Asheville, NC, in the Fairview Valley.

Chris Reckling, from Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, performs in an old-time music duo called the Long Lost String Band. He plays guitar, banjo and sings, along with Anne Rouillard on fiddle and vocals.

“The banjo is amazing!” Reckling said. “The design is beautiful and it has a punchy, mellow sound that projects well when I play with my fiddler. One of the things I really like about this Pisgah banjo is the history behind it. I realize that the reclaimed pine used for the banjo came from a plantation, built by enslaved people, and I think about that every time I pick it up. So, in that way, it’s more than an instrument. It has a connection to a history that lives on in the music I make and acknowledges the African roots of the banjo.

“I had wanted to give to the Arnold Shultz Fund, and this was a good opportunity to do it,” Reckling said about his decision to buy a raffle ticket. I feel it’s important to support people of color who want to pursue traditional string band music (bluegrass and old-time), so that it better represents a more inclusive population. Our future is going to be more diverse, not less, and we need to embrace it and encourage it. Traditional music (and jazz, too, for that matter) is a unique blend of African and European traditions that is truly American, with the ability to bring people together.”

“Our goal was to sell 1,000 raffle tickets to raise $20,000 for the Arnold Shultz Fund,” said Patrick Sawyer, a luthier on staff at Pisgah Banjos. “Thanks to our incredible supporters, we are pleased to share that we sold 1,337 tickets and raised $26,740 for the Arnold Shultz Fund.”

Melissa Arnold, also at Pisgah Banjos, has let the Foundation know they plan to have another raffle next year, with a higher ticket sales goal. “The raffle turned out great,” she said. “In addition to supporting the Arnold Shultz Fund. we also gave folks the option at checkout to donate to plant a tree through our partnership with Green Forests Work, and we were able to raise funds to plant 392 trees. We definitely plan to support this great cause again next year!”

RETURN to the April 2021 issue of The Cornerstone.